If you’re familiar with the fictional Star Wars Universe, then you will have heard of a Jedi. You may even know a few of them by name. Being a Jedi and becoming a Jedi within the Star Wars Galaxy is no easy feat and is much more complex than a band of military special forces tasked to protect all sapient life.
Jedi 101: What Makes a Jedi a Jedi? A Jedi is a member of the Jedi Order and is the primary protagonist within the Star Wars universe. They’re powerful force wielders that are seen as the guardians of peace and justice within the Galactic Republic.
Becoming and continuing as a Jedi is a philosophical as well as a spiritual process. George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, as influenced by many sources when creating the Star Wars Universe and while deciding how to depict the Jedi.
What Defines a Jedi?
All Jedi’s study and utilize the Force, a metaphysical power present within the Star Wars Universe.
The Jedi Code
The Jedi’s live and keep peace according to a distinct moral code and represent the knowledge of right from wrong. The formal Jedi Code is a set of rules decided by and for the Jedi Order as a way to govern Jedi behavior.
There is no emotion; there is peace.
There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
There is no chaos; there is harmony.
There is no death; there is the Force.— The Jedi Code, Dark Disciple
This code became doctrine and taught Jedi’s in all stages of education, not to let certain feelings dictate how they live and protect. Specifically their feelings of fear and anger towards other lifeforms. Anger is the driving force for the Dark Side, and if a Jedi is to succumb to his or her anger, they could fall into the dark side of the Force.
What are the Jedi Ranks?
All members of the Jedi Order must pass and progress through certain educational levels or stages in hopes of one day becoming a master.
The fours educational stages are:
As the first stage in Jedi training, Younglings, or children in Jedi training, are sought out by Jedi Masters to enter Jedi Academy. These children, usually around age five, demonstrate as being a “force-sensitive” Jedi candidate. Anikan Skywalker is an exception to the age limitations set on Jedi Initiates for training as he was recruited and trained after age five. Most “force-sensitive” individuals are discovered at birth and are able to begin training at least by that time.
During the first ten years of their training, the Initiates are segregated from the outside world, including their families. This allows them to further separate from earthly attachments and emotions. While in training, the Initiates should begin to have rudimentary control over the Force as well as learn some basic self-defense tactics.
After completing a series of classes alongside other Younglings, the Initiates are then able to be an apprentice to a Jedi Knight. When they reach the point of apprenticeship, Younglings must participate in the rite of passage known as The Gathering. This is first featured in Season 5 of the TV Show Star Wars: The Clone Wars in episode 6 “The Gathering.”
During the Gathering, a group of 6-8 Younglings must enter the Jedi Temple of Ilum and face a number of obstacles in order to find their kyber crystal that aligns with their personal Force presence. This forces the Younglings to overcome their fears while they begin the process of building their lightsaber.
The powerful vengeance present within the Crystal Caves exploits the individual’s shortcomings and weaknesses upon entering. In order for the young Jedi Initiates to pass the test and for their crystal to appear, they must face their deepest insecurities. If they do not pass this test, they will never find the crystal they need to construct their lightsaber.
Originating from a Sanskrit term, Padawan can be translated to “learner.” To become a Padawan or Apprentice, the Younglings must successfully complete the Initiate Trails and gone through all the stages of fundamental training. Then they can be chosen by a higher ranking Jedi, a Knight or a Master, for further training and mentorship.
Identifiable by a braid on the right side of the head, Padawan’s work and train alongside their elder Jedi. When they are ready, they must also pass through a rite of passage to knighthood by completing the final trials and constructing their lightsaber completely. The ceremony moving a Padawan to Knighthood includes the cutting of their braid with their newly constructed lightsaber.
The final trials are known as:
- Trial of Skill
- Trial of Courage
- Trial of the Flesh
- Trial of Spirit
- Trial of Insight or Knowledge
While a Padawan, Jedi’s will go out on missions as an apprentice and never alone. The trials are assigned to the Padawan, and once fully completed they can move forward to Knighthood. In rare cases, such as with Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Padawan can skip over some of the final trials by completing an extraordinary act.
The majority of Jedi spend the rest of their lives as a Jedi Knight. The Knights serve the Jedi Order and now can go on missions alone as well as take on apprentices moving through the Padawan stage.
Once achieving Jedi Knight status, they are also able to pursue further education of their choosing.
Becoming a Jedi Master is a rank that many Jedi do not achieve during their life. In order to move from being a Jedi Knight towards a Jedi Master, a Jedi must show unparalleled devotion, skill, and wisdom in regards to the Force. You are appointed a Jedi Master if the Jedi High Council deems you worthy of the high honor.
Success in combat played a role in becoming a Jedi Master, but it is not as important as having control and wisdom in the force. Though for a time, Jedi Knight’s began declaring themselves masters, this became highly discouraged by the Jedi High Council.
Once a Jedi Master, you can be offered a seat on the Jedi High Council or any of the other three councils.
Other Jedi Ranks
Occasionally you will hear the rank of Grand Jedi Master. This is a term used to describe the leader of the Jedi High Council. They are revered as the wisest, and usually the oldest, member within the Jedi Order. This high honor comes with the responsibility of providing guidance and direction to the entire Jedi Order. Examples of Grand Jedi Master’s include Yoda and Luke Skywalker.
There are also unranking Jedi’s. These are Jedi students that were unable to complete the trials but are still members of the Jedi order. These members often work for the Jedi Service Corps within Agriculture or other fitting sectors.
Jedi Military Ranks
As the Clone Wars were upon the Galactic Republic, the Galactic Senate sought out the Jedi to lead the Grand Army of the Republic. As the guardians of peace and justice, they were given two specific ranks within the Republic Military: Jedi Commander and Jedi General.
A Jedi Commander could either be a Padawan or a Jedi Knight. They served as a second in command to the Jedi Generals. Jedi Generals could only Jedi Knights of Jedi Masters. They were considered the highest-ranking military officials within the Grand Army of the Republic.
What Makes a Jedi Master?
We briefly detailed what a Jedi Master can be defined as in the section regarding Jedi Ranks. However, being a Jedi Master is far beyond a simple title. Few Jedi ever receive the honor of being deemed a master of the Force.
Jedi Master is the highest rank bestowed to a Jedi within the Jedi Order. The only rank regarded as higher would be Grand Jedi Master, which is only bestowed upon the oldest and wisest Jedi within the Order. The rank of Jedi Master is reserved for Jedi that has demonstrated devotion and skill to balance the Force. This can come from years of training upcoming Jedi Knights when they are Padawans and can also come following heroic acts during combat.
Historically, Jedi Masters would train Padawan to Knighthood one after another or find other methods to prove to the Order they have completed the Trials of Knighthood. During the Old and New Sith wars, some Jedi Knight’s began to deem themselves as Jedi Masters when they felt they deserved the title. These acknowledgments were not made my a central council within the Order but usually came following a victory over the Sith. The Jedi felt that those victories were proof enough of their skill and mastery over the Force.
After the Great Jedi Purge, Luke Skywalker created a somewhat reformative method to achieve the rank of Jedi Master. This reform did not allow Jedi Knights to be granted the rank of Master simply by training Padawans but required a more extensive degree of mastery of the Force. The Order did eventually also acknowledge certain deeds performed on behalf of the New Republic as well (Jedi Knight Kyle Katarn is an example of this acknowledgment).
This ranking then allows a Jedi to sit on the Jedi High Council or one of the other three councils, but only when invited. The only exception to this rule came with Anikan Skywalker as he was appointed to the council during the Clone Wars but not bestowed the rank of Jedi Master. As most of the Jedi Masters sat on one of the four councils, they made up the smallest percentage of Jedi within the Jedi Order.
Being invited to be a part of a council within Jedi Order was an honor and an opportunity given to the Jedi that had a special set of skills or who demonstrated talents superior to that of other Jedi Masters. Now, this did not always mean that they were the most skilled with their lightsaber or even within the realm of combat at all. Generally speaking, the Jedi Councils were comprised of Masters that had great situational awareness and insight beyond that of other Jedi as they were chosen to guide and lead the Jedi Order.
For much of this Jedi overview, we have been referring to the four Jedi councils within the Order. In order for a Jedi to sit upon one of the four councils, they must first be acknowledged as a Jedi Master. The purpose of the Jedi Councils is to serve as the administrative and governing bodies that guide the Jedi Order in their academics, temples, and organizations.
Each council serves a distinct purpose and are known as follows:
- Jedi High Council
- Council of First Knowledge
- Council of Reconciliation
- Council of Reassignment
Jedi High Council
This is the ruling body of the Jedi Order and is made up of the wisest and the strongest Jedi Masters. The council consists of twelve Jedi Masters and is headquartered in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, the capital World within the Galactic Republic. As the presiding council over the Jedi Order, the High Council ensured that all Jedi were to adhere to the Jedi Code, and many of the members upheld the Order’s ancient traditions.
The Grand Jedi Master presides over the Jedi High Council as the oldest and wisest living Jedi. The Grand Jedi Master is not to be confused with the Master of the Order as they are separate positions. The Master of the Order is an elected leader of the Jedi Order works closely with the Grand Jedi Master. Yoda once served as both the Master of the Order and the Grand Jedi Master, but historically there would be one Jedi for each position.
During the Clone Wars, the Jedi Order fell following Order 66 and the Great Jedi Purge. Few members of the High Council, including Yoda and Obi-wan Kenobi, survived the attacks and the rise of the Galactic Empire. The Jedi High Council eventually lost its two remaining members in the Battle of Endor when Yoda and Kenobi became one with the Force.
Luke Skywalker eventually began to rebuild the Jedi Order and train new Jedi to Knighthood and beyond.
Council of First Knowledge
In operation during the rule of the Galactic Republic, the primary role of this council was to give advice regarding ancient Jedi wisdom in regards to Jedi Archives and the curriculum of the Temple. This allowed them to primarily oversee the Jedi Academy. Eventually, this council accepted the task of finding and destroying all Sith teachings and artifacts throughout the galaxy in an effort to eradicate the Dark Side of the Force. This project to eliminate Sith teachings became known as the Shadow Program.
Five Jedi Masters made up the entirety of the Council of Knowledge. The leader of the Council of First Knowledge was known as the Caretaker of First Knowledge. This was a single permanent member of the council that sat for life until he or she stepped down from the position. The Caretaker was also taxed with personally protecting and organizing protection for the Holocron Chamber.
The other four remaining members would rotate off of the council after they served their five-year term. Many of the members of this council would serve upon another council simultaneously or have retired from the Jedi High Council. Many members were also often a long-lived species as they would have experienced more and had more time to acquire more knowledge and perspective on Jedi matters.
Interestingly, the Council of First Knowledge often did not consult Jedi outside of the Academy as their first order of business was the train upcoming Jedi. They would occasionally consult if it were a pressing matter in need of specific expertise and knowledge, but their main focus was on growing and sharing the knowledge base within the realm of the Jedi Academy.
Council of Reconciliation
This council worked directly with the Galactic Senate and the Republic Diplomatic Corps in an effort to settle interplanetary disputes. They would also negotiate with other political factions. Their primary goal was to find peaceful solutions to any political debates as well as occasionally dealing with internal Jedi Order affairs, such as if a Jedi is accused of crossing to the Dark Side of the Force.
The Council of Reconciliation was also comprised of five members. Jedi Masters would become members by being appointed and then voted into the council. There were two permanent seats on the council that allowed those members to sit for life or until they decided to step down. The remaining three members of the council would rotate out after serving their five-year term. Many members of this council would simultaneously serve upon another council or were retired from the Jedi High Council.
During the Great Galactic War, the Council of Reconciliation was temporarily suspended due to the fact that the Jedi Order was largely militarized during that time. Like the other respective Jedi Councils, this council also fell with the Order upon the rise of the Empire and the Great Jedi Purge.
Council of Reassignment
As not all Younglings and Padawans are chosen to become Jedi, no longer wished to pursue the path of the Jedi, or they do not pass their trials, the Council of Reassignment was tasked with organizing work for them. They were the administration behind the Jedi Service Corps and all of its respective branches and councils. This council also worked closely with Jedi Knights that had special talents.
This council also consisted of five members that were appointed and then voted into the council. There were two permanent seats on the council that allowed whoever held that position to either sit for life or until they decided to step down. The remaining three seats were reserved for members to serve a five-year term.
Some members of the Jedi Order viewed membership to the Service Corps as a sign of weakness, whereas the Council of Reassignment valued the Service Corps members equally to all other Jedi Knights as their roles and talents were equally as valuable to the Republic. Masters and Knights were also able to serve within the Service Corps upon rotation if they chose to do so.
The Council of Reassignment also oversaw the satellite councils that oversee specific branches of the Service Corps. These four branches included:
- The Agricultural Corps
- The Medical Corps
- The Educational Corps
- The Exploration Corps
Jedi Service Corps
The Jedi Council of Reassignment oversees the happenings within the Jedi Service Corps, but they have separate councils and duties amongst their individual branches. As previously mentioned, the service corps was made up of individuals of all ranks and talents and was seen as an invaluable part of the Jedi Order.
The Agricultural Corps
This was the largest of all the branches in the service corps as members would use their connection to the Force to grow crops in the entire galaxy, in turn feeding millions. This helped to bring hope and prosperity to areas decimated by famine and drought as the Living Force was able to overcome these obstacles. Those that made up the AgriCorps members were often employed for their entire lives.
The Medical Corps
Often coming from the Padawan stage of education, these young Jedi learners had extraordinary healing powers. This branch was often much smaller and only employed a few dozen members, plus instructors, at a time. These members would work alongside the doctors at Galactic City Medical Center.
The Educational Corps
This branch of the Service Corps was made up of students that were still in training. Working at the Temple of Coruscant, its members worked to catalog and translate documents and data within the Archives.
The Exploration Corps
As you could possibly guess from its name, this branch was in charge of exploring unknown parts of the galaxy. With the many missions and unknowns, many of the members were Knights and Masters within the Jedi ranks. They would work closely with the Republic Survey Corps and the Intergalactic Zoological Society in order to explore unknown regions, study the history of the Jedi, and the history of the galaxy.
The Jedi Order
The four councils described above were all put in place to help run and guide the Jedi Order. Largely seen as a peacekeeping organization, the Jedi Order closely followed their belief systems and observations regarding the Light Side of the Force. Sometimes viewed as a religious order, the origins of the Jedi Order date back thousands of years before the founding of the Galactic Republic.
While there are other force-sensitive individuals other than the Jedi, the Sith are the strongest wielders of the Dark Side of the Force. The emergence of a Sith Order caused a notable fracture in the unity of the Jedi Order as some rogue Jedi decidedly followed the Sith in order to explore the Dark Side of the Force. This sparred a war between the Sith and the Jedi order that continued for centuries.
Other than the Sith, many other rogue Jedi have come forward with confrontational views and new ideas that create schisms within the Order. These views revolve around the Jedi interpretation of the Jedi Code, and would sometimes create new minorities of thinking. Sometimes, these views were tolerated; however, due to the fear of the Sith and the return of the Dark Side of the Force, many were ostracised and unaccepted by the High Council.
The Fall of the Jedi Order
The Jedi Order would eventually be overthrown during the Clone Wars by Senator and Supreme Chancellor of the Republic Sheev Palpatine, who was, in fact, the Sith known as Sidious. By carrying out Order 66, Sidious effectively turned the Clone soldiers against their Jedi Masters, wiping out the Jedi Order. The few remaining Jedi fled and remained in hiding as the Sith hunted them down.
Obi-Wan Kenobi was one of the last remaining members of the Jedi High Council to live and eventually train Luke Skywalker as a Jedi. Luke completed his journey to becoming a Jedi Knight by defeating Darth Vader, his father. After this, the rise of the New Republic emerged, and Luke Skywalker attempted to restore the Jedi Order by training new Jedi.
Unfortunately, Luke Skywalker would be betrayed by his own nephew, Kylo Ren, who he trained. Ren destroyed Skywalker’s hopes of restoring a new Jedi Order and killed many apprenticing Jedi in his path. Ren became obsessed with his grandfather, Darth Vader, and felt that he must carry out his legacy.
With Luke Skywalker in hiding, the Jedi Order fell once more and the rise of the Knights of Ren and the First Order. Eventually, Rey sought out Skywalker to train her in the ways of the Jedi and in an attempt to restore the Jedi Order. This process is seen as the redemption of the Jedi and the return of the Order despite the fact that Skywalker died, and the First Order rose to power.